Tag Archive | Marian Anderson

Fearless Females Blog Post: March 22 – This is “Her” Life.

March 22 — If a famous director wanted to make a movie about one of your female ancestors who would it be? What actress would you cast in the role and why?

If  a famous director wanted to make a movie of one of my ancestor’s it would be about the Cully family and it would be centered around my grandmother Agnes and my mother Betty residing in Sugar Hill.  The many lives of the other family members would be weaved through the life of Agnes.  There would be many scenes portrayed in her sewing room in her apartment where many stories were told.  The main years of the movie would be 1923-1952.

I would like to see Cicely Tyson play my grandmother as she is a star actress, and Angela Bassett  would play my mother because of her elegance.  My mother was very elegant.  The name would either be “The Socialite” or “Sugar”

Marian Anderson and her Fashion Designer Agnes Cully Peters

Wordless Wednesday: Betty Peters at Marianna Farm

Photo of my mother Betty Mae Peters in Danbury, Connecticut at Marian Anderson’s home in 1942. Marian’s home was called Marianna Farm. Betty was on the Pier of the pool and you can see Marian Anderson’s Studio in the background. Betty was 16 years old at the time.

Amanuensis Monday: Wedding Solomnized At Marian Anderson Estate

     Miss Dolores Duncan was my mother’s friend from childhood.  This is an article I found in the Amsterdam Newspaper from April 22, 1950 that reported on the wedding of Dolores Duncan Wharton.  My mother Betty Peters was her Matron of Honor and my grandmother Agnes Peters, renewed the Heirloom dress that Dolores wore.  I recently visited my mother’s friend Dolores and finding this article adds to the richness of the Historical Novel I am preparing to write.
Top Society Wedding Solemnized at Anderson Estate…
GERRI MAJOR
New York Amsterdam News (1943-1961); Apr 22, 1950;
ProQuest Historical Newspapers New York Amsterdam News: 1922-1993
pg. 21
Top Society Wedding Solemnized…
Miss Dolores Duncan Weds
Clifton Wharton of Boston
by Gerri Major
     DANBURY, CONN-In the artistically appointed studio of Miss Marian Anderson, on her Danbury, Connecticut estate, last Saturday afternoon at three o’clock, two of the country’s most distinguished families were united in an Episcopal service.  Miss Dolores Mae Duncan, daughter of Mrs. James Owens of Kenosia, Conn, and Kenneth Duncan of New York, became the bride of Clifton R. Wharton, United States Consul General to Lisbon, Portugal, and Mrs. Wharton.
     The double ring ceremony was performed by the Rev. Oliver B. Dale, rector of the Church of St. Augustine’s and St. Martin, Boston, and the Rev. Shelton Hale Bishop, rector of St. Phillips Church, New York City.
Bridal Costume
     The beautiful bride wore an heirloom dress of point d’esprit which designer Agnes Peters combined with nylon net.  The fitted bodice and full skirt ending in a short train were edged with rows of ruffles.  The original gown was the wedding dress of Mrs. Thomas Dorsey of Philadelphia, great-aunt of the bride, who as Miss Blanche Bradford was wed Nov. 14, 1901 in St. Luke’s Church, Washington, D.C.
     From the bride’s cap of lilies of the valley, flared a full, waist length veil, dotted with sprigs of lilies, the creation of Mrs. Dorothy Gatling of Philadelphia.  White shoulder length gloves and white satin slippers completed the wedding costume.
     The only jewelry worn by the bride was a necklace of matched pearls, a graduation gift to the late Miss Helen Dorsey, her cousin.  The bride carried the prayer book of her great-aunt, Miss Mary A. Bradford.  From a white orchid which rested on the book, cascaded white ribbons and lilies of the valley.
Bridal Attendants
     The Bride was given in marriage by her stepfather, the well-known composer and arranger, James Owens.  She was attended by Mrs. Ira Aldridge, Jr. matron of honor, Miss Bettye Peters, both of New York City; and Miss Bettye Fitzgerald of Boston, a cousin.  They were attired in gowns embroidered organza over taffeta-pink for the matron, yellow for bridesmaids, gifts from the bride.  They wore fuchsia caps, outlined with lilies of the valley, and carried bouquets of yellow snapdragons and lavender iris.
     The bride’s mother selected a navy blue chiffon with an under-dress of chartreuse taffeta, and a picture hat of bottle green French felt trimmed with roses.  The groom’s mother wore a cocoa French lace gown, and flower and lace trimmed sailor.
     The groom’s 16-year-old brother, William Wharton, a student at Boston English School, served as best man.  The ushers were Jack Duncan, brother of the bride, Ira Aldridge, Jr., of New York City, and Joseph Mitchell, Jr. and William Ellis of Boston.  The latter was the classmate of the groom.
     The wedding processional was played by Steuart Griffin of Danbury, who also furnished incidental music for the reception.  Miss Georgette Howell, guest soloist, sang the Lord’s prayer by Malotte.
Wedding Reception
     The wedding reception also was held in the Anderson studio which was bedecked in white and yellow spring flowers.  The bride’s table was dominated by a three tier festooned cake.  At another table, champagne punch was ladled from a magnificent silver-encrusted bowl.  Plates of chicken salad, relishes and rolls were served from an adjoining room.
     Many guests followed the bridal couple to the Owens’ home at nearby Lake Kenosia, where a room of wedding gifts were displayed-linens, silver, glassware, china, bedding, household appliances, and a set of dirilyte, gift of the bride’s parents.  The Groom’s family sent a handsome silver well and tree platter.
      For traveling, the bride selected a brown wool, tailored dress with matching cape, gift of Agnes Peters and a straw bonnet.  The….
Continued on PAGE 27
Miss Dolores Duncan Weds
Clifton Wharton of Boston
Continued from PAGE 21
….Miss Dolores Duncan Weds-4 destination of the couple was not disclosed.
     The bride, a graduate of Bethel High School, attended New York University and the Neighborhood Playhouse.  She currently is studying under Martha Graham in New York.
     The groom is an alumnus of Boston Latin School and graduated from Harvard cum laude in 1947.  He was the first Negro admitted to the School of Advanced International Studies where he received an M.A. in international affairs in 1948.  At Harvard and the School of Advanced International Studies, he held the Oliver Bishop Harriman and the William Benton Foreign Service scholarships awarded by the U.S. Department of State.
     Mr. Wharton, who is bilingual in Spanish and English, is a program analyst with the American International Association for Economic and Social Development, of which Nelson A. Rockefeller is President.  He has published several articles dealing with Latin American economic problems and the problems of underdeveloped areas in the “Inter-American Economic Affairs” and other magazines.
     Relatives and close friends from Philadelphia, Baltimore, Boston, New York and Danbury attended the wedding.  From New York were: Dr. and Mrs. Louis Fairclough, Dr. and Mrs. Sylvester Carter, Dr. and Mrs. Andrew Maxwell; also Messrs, and Mmes, Grenier Turner, Emanuel Howard, Theodore Daniels, William Carman, Jr. and Sr., Joaquin Fiorillo, William Austin, Alexander Rose, John Swartz, Clifford Alexander, Earl Brown, B. Stewart, Clarence Curley, James Conway, Robert Mangum, Goodwin Alston, Charles Wharton, Robert Cooper, Robert W. Hudgins, James Maddox, Lawrence Levy, Bernard Grogan.
     Also Mmes, Helen Sterrett, Louise Hart and daughter, Eva Duncan, Minta Turner, June Thompson, V. Thompson, D.W. Anderson, Iris Kreigar, Thornton Wood, Thomas Harmon, Vivian Ford and daughter; also Misses Daisy Hamer, Marguerite Reid, Wendy Salmond, Selma Kroll, Evelyn Kiner, Rosemary A. Rockford, Jean Davis, Emma Gilbert; also Messrs, William Holland, William Small, George Carter, Clifford Alexander, Jr., Bill Graham, Raymond Savoy, William Lippman, Charles L. Drayton, Rockwell Colaneri, William Anastos.
     Among the Danbury and Bethel residents present were: Dr. and Mrs. Conrad Edwards, Mr. and Mrs. Louis Rotella, Mr. and Mrs. O Hodge Fisher, Mrs. C. Bethany Powell; also Misses Janie Ritchie, Rose and Adell Eyes; also father Salmone, William Goldburg and daughter; and Dr. James Leee of Waterbury.
     From Boston were: Mr. and Mrs. Everett Yates and daughter, Mr. and Mrs. Harry Ellis; Mmes Joseph S. Mitchell, McFarland Fitzgerald, and Thomas H. Hicks; also Miss Barbara Hill, Harold Smith, Harold May.
     Philadelphia guests included: Messrs. and Mmes. Thomas Dorsey, Harry Black, John Gatling, Norris Brown, Stanley Lomax; also Mmes. Albert Bradford, Thomas H. Lee, Anna Anderson, Rosa Allen, Rita Feirson; also Misses Mary Bradford and Mary Clayton.
     Baltimore was represented by Mr. and Mrs. Bradford James, Mrs. Howard Wright, and Mrs. Beatrice Hawkins.
     From Liberia was Rudolph Grimes.

Amanuensis Monday: Betty Peters 1942 Journal, Day #12

This is a continued effort to transcribe my mother’s 1942 Journal when she was 15 years old.  To see other postings Click on following links: Day #1, Day #2, Day #3, Day #4, Day #5, Day #6 & #7, Day #8, Day #9, Day #10 Day #11

Betty Peters & unidentified Friend

September 5, Saturday 1942
Page #58

Bravo!  I just found out that Aunt Ivy’s birthday is on October 26.  Ha! Ha! Ha!  Victory number one!  (She didn’t want me to know).  Also I found out that Miss Myrtle Gaines her boarder since Sunday last is not Miss G., but Mrs. Myrtle Raspberry.  At least that’s the way a letter from Mrs. Willie Burrough, Mill Pine Ark. was addressed.  Myrtle comes from Ark. So Mrs. Burrough ought to know.  And what about her fiance who’s in the army in Arizona?!!  There are going to be fireworks around this house long before July 4 of next year, and yours truly will be here too!  I repeat.  Bravo!  P.S. Aunt Ivy is also Scorpio!  Hip Hip! Hooooooo Ray!  Dig you later. Ey! Now!

Affectionately
B.M.P.

February 1, 1943, Monday
Page  # 59

See my handwriting has changed!  Lots of other things have changed too.  For one thing, Aunt Ivy claims she’s through with us because we promised to visit her x’mas and couldn’t make it.  She must be crazy!  We are going to write and try to straighten her out, but then you can’t get blood from a turnip, can you?
Alveretta Britton, Marian Anderson’s protege is living in the house in Miss Hicks apt, but she spends most of her time up here.  At first we thought she was swell but after living with her for awhile we really know what kind of a person she is.  She is stuck on her self. She…

Page # 60 Feb 1, Cont’d

…has an awful temper and she tries to act young, even though she is past 30 yrs of age.  However, she has a beautiful voice.  She sang at the Russian Casino on Fifth Avenue last Saturday.  Mother dressed her.
I am now in 6th term and once again in Renee’s class.  Another class mate of mine is Marilyn Tittley. Some more new people are Sylvia Fitt (Bobby’s latest) and Irma Bryant (Ruthie’s friend).
Stanley had his first really big party.  He graduated from Clinton.  So did Freddie, Earl, Roy and Sonny.  Ruthie went to the party with me.  Barbara had arthritis in her hip but she came too.  It was a sport affair.  I went over for Richard Trimpson in a big way.

                                                                                           Page #61, Feb 1, Cont’d

Arnett Cannon likes Ruthie very much.  He sent her a beautiful compact.  He now attends American International College in Mass. Henry Thomas from Springfield likes Joyce, the feeling is mutual. He and Joyce were kissing behind the living room curtains.  Tut! Tut! Naughty! Naughty!
The fireman is still around, but he can jump off a cliff as far as I am concerned.

Ruthie is having a party Saturday Night.  She has invited 35 people. Lloyd Love has a collapsible knee and an inferiority complex.  If he comes I’m going to try to straighten him out.
I saw “White Cargo,” with….

Page #62, Top
Feb 1, Cont’d

…Walter Pidgeon, Hedy Lamaar, Richard Carlson, Frank Morgan and Leigh Whipper.  It was marvelous.  I have have to go to Aunt Sadie’s now to get something for Mother.  So long.
P.S.  At last, I have a Victrola!
B.P.





Copyright
The material, both written and photographic on these pages is the copyright of Yvette Porter Moore unless stated. Material on this site may be used for personal reference only. If you wish to use any of the material on this site for other means, please seek the written permission of Yvette Porter Moore
© 2010-2011

Amanuensis Monday: Newspaper Articles Agnes Cully Peters (My Grandmother)

My Grandmother Agnes Cully Peters was a Fashion Designer in Harlem, New York. I grew up knowing this fact about my Grandmother, that she sewed for Marian Anderson and other well known performers, but the only hard evidence that I had was my Mother’s stories, and a couple of pictures.

When I went on my Family History Research Trip to Harlem, one of the first places I went was the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. I immediately went searching for any and all articles on my family and their very close friends.  I had great success!  Below are a few articles of documentation.

New York Amsterdam News, Nov. 18, 1939
[Transcribed]
Marian Anderson’s Modiste
MARIAN ANDERSON, America’s Number 1 contralto, has engaged
Mrs. Agnes Cully Peters, Modiste, of 460 West 147th Street, to
design an make her clothes for a year.  For a long time the singer has
had many of the European experts to attend to that important detail
for her and they certainly have done an excellent job.  However, since
she could not go abroad this season, Miss Anderson has decide to 
give that job to one of her own race-and she should be commended
for doing so.

(Modiste, a maker of fashionable clothing and accessories, with the implication that the articles made reflect the current Paris fashions.)

The article above stated that Agnes would design Marian’s clothes for a year, but she did many years after, and through the 1950’s.  Below is another article dated in 1949.

 [Transcribed]
MARIAN ANDERSON, best dressed women, is proud no end of the talents of Agnes Cully Peters who designs all of her street clothes. She considers Agnes a blessing to keep her in style since she has so little time for shopping. Miss Anderson will be a guest of honor when Agnes stages her “New Look” fashion show at the Club Sudan on the 23rd……

Historical Research Trip To Sugar Hill, Harlem, New York

 Life on Sugar Hill
I am writing my mother’s memoirs of “Sugar Hill” New York between 1926 and 1950. It is a story written from a daughter’s perspective.
 
Betty Peters-1929 Photo by D’Laigle

Currently I am researching the Sugar Hill neighborhood of Manhattan, and will raise-the-bar of my research by visiting New York this June 2010.  My daughter Vanessa will go with me, as she is my official photographer and will document our footprints.  We will be staying in a local Bed & Breakfast which is located two blocks from the actual Apartments my mother lived. This will allow me to walk the streets my mother walked and breathe in the culture of Harlem that my mother knew so well.

Betty Mae Peters, 16 yrs old

When I was a little girl, my mother recorded her life stories of New York and the background of her family history on tape.  She would tell me that she was writing a book, but never got around to finishing her project. This is why I feel the strong need to finish her book, even though there is so much that has been taken with her in death.  For this very reason, we should never put off what we can do today.

My mother, Betty Mae Peters Porter was born in New York City on November 17, 1926 to Agnes Cully and Charles I. Peters. She was an only child. Betty grew up in the “Sugar Hill” area of New York City where she attended George Washington High School.  Always an organizer and socialite, Betty and her life time friend, Marilyn “Mickey” Sullivan formed and belonged to a club during their childhood called the “149 Street Queens.”
Her mother, Agnes, was a well known seamstress and fashion designer. Her clients included Marian Anderson, Betty Davis, Barbara Rush, Joan Crawford and other celebrities. Betty often modeled in her mother’s fashion show in New York City.
Marian Anderson and My Grandmother Agnes Cully Peters.  My Grandmother was her personal fashion designer
Betty was always an excellent student. She received a dual bachelor’s degree in English and Journalism from New York University in 1947. Her skills and clever talents in writing were evident in her unique holiday letters received by friends and relatives. Betty and her mother moved to Los Angeles, where her Aunt Zara Cully Brown was an actress, also known as “Mother Jefferson” in the television sitcom “The Jefferson’s” (staring Sherman Hensley, and Isabelle Sanford.)
My Great Aunt Zara Cully Brown

While in Los Angeles, Betty received her CA teaching credential from Los Angeles State College, and attended Pepperdine University, where she received her Master of Arts degree in Multicultural Education. Betty became very popular and active in the social and political circles of the Los Angeles Community. Betty taught at Rosewood Elementary School and later founded the Friendship Guild where she was president. This was an elite organization of women who remained as Betty’s dearest friends throughout her life.

In 1957, Betty met and married the late Dr. Walter J. Porter. They moved to San Diego, CA in 1969, and became very active in the field of education, musical and civic affairs. They also became the proud parents of two loving children. Betty taught classes for the Gifted and Talented Students at the elementary school level in San Diego City Schools for many years, retiring in 1992. She was an avid reader, and an excellent cook. A “gathering” at the Porter household was always a special treat. She was very supportive of “Wally’s” numerous activities as she shared forty-four memorable years with him until hes death in 2001. She also enjoyed spending time with her seven grandchildren.
Betty was a member of the San Diego -Tema Sister City Society, the African Arts Committee, The Chapel of Awareness in Encinitas and was an Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. Silver Star, (Epsilon Xi Omega Chapter). Betty was a breast cancer survivor who tried to impress on others the importance of yearly exams. She suffered a massive stroke on Christmas Eve, which took her life.

Copyright
The material, both written and photographic on these pages is the copyright of Yvette Porter Moore unless stated. Material on this site may be used for personal reference only. If you wish to use any of the material on this site for other means, please seek the written permission of Yvette Porter Moore
© 2010-2011